Intercepts

Rumsfeld Sinks 'CINCs'

The Interceptor noticed an interesting phenomenon recently when it comes to the language used by Defense Department leaders giving presentations at local conferences and symposiums. From the secretaries of the services on down, speech-givers seemed to be avoiding the term "CINC" at all costs, and now we know why.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said so.

Rumsfeld last month released a memorandum to DOD leaders that said President Bush is the nation's only commander in chief (CINC) and then forbade the services from using the acronym, pronounced "sink," for military officer titles, which has been done for decades.

Rumsfeld didn't like the CINC title being applied to anyone other than the president and, instead, has been using the term "combatant commanders" for leaders of regional commands and simply "commander" when talking about a specific unit.

Despite the immediate cease-and-desist notice on using CINC in titles, Rumsfeld's memo directed officials to replace old signs and other paraphernalia only when done in regular maintenance and "without any undue additional cost to taxpayers."

Joystick Generation

How often do you hear DOD's deputy secretary talk about joysticks? Well, the "joystick generation" — DOD's younger, more tech-savvy personnel — is making great strides in helping the Pentagon move from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

The shift means moving from the mass of systems to networked, distributed forces with greater situational awareness.

Those changes remain a major challenge for DOD, he said Oct. 30 at a Government Electronics and Information Technology Association's conference.

Much integration work remains to be done because of the speed of technology, Wolfowitz said, and it seems that for "every year we're catching up, we fall three more years behind."

In addition to culture, he noted three main technical challenges in DOD's use of IT:

n Making data available on a network that people trust.

n Populating that network with new, useful information that pulls from the best resources rather than pushing it from a central location.

n Denying U.S. enemies access to the network.

"They aren't separate tasks; they are interdependent and merit concurrent pursuit," Wolfowitz told Federal Computer Week in an e-mail message. "In other words, while all three should and are being worked on, it is probably fair to say that the department had made the most progress to date on [the first goal], which is perhaps the most urgent at this early stage."

Talkin' Procurement

DOD officials want to change how the Pentagon deals with proposed regulations by encouraging discussion.

Deidre Lee, director of Defense procurement, said that DOD traditionally has had a formal rulemaking process involving public hearings that feature people reading written statements that go on and on. Those hearings have been "ghastly days," she said, and are not very helpful.

"We decided that didn't work very well," she said at the Coalition for Government Procurement's Oct. 24 conference.

DOD officials have been working to make the process more interactive by testing hearings that include a discussion and by enabling people to make comments electronically.

Some within DOD suggested that the latter innovation would be like a chat room. Lee agreed, saying the hope is that the discussion will help create better regulations. And she said she would like this process to be governmentwide.

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